You Are Altogether Beautiful, My Darling

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SONG 1:1-4:16 | 2 CORINTHIANS 8:16-24 | PSALM 50:1-23 | PROVERBS 22:22-23

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We enter today, the third book commonly referred to as being authored by Solomon, king of Israel.  Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are the first two, and The Song of Songs of Solomon is third and last.  Thought to have been written some 900 hundred years before the birth of Christ, this very small book is one long love-poem which is thought to be an allegorical representation of the love between Yahweh and the children of Israel, or for Christians, the love between God and the Church.  There is great imagery in the florid poetry, and these are only a few examples below:

3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
6 His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.
7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

The man, in turn, professes his love for his beloved by way of celebrating the beauty of her female form.  He says:

1 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.
6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

Turning next to our continued reading in the second letter of Paul to the church in Corinth, we see that Paul is commending Titus on volunteering to come to them and receive the collection. 

He says:  23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

Next, we see in our psalm for the day, the psalmist plays God’s mouthpiece in offering this exhortation:

14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Finally, from the book of Proverbs, our verses for the day consist of a “saying”—the second one in a series of thirty.  It goes like this:

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the LORD will take up their case
and will exact life for life.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

5 thoughts on “You Are Altogether Beautiful, My Darling

  1. The Book of Proverbs cited herein reminds us, how “crushing” the “poor” in a Court of Law was a common-thing, since those days. This concept is important to take note of because, not only is it here, but, almost in every other ancient, classic literature of many a culture.I am sure, this will verse you’ve cited from Proverbs will make it quite introspective. Thanks.”22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor    and do not crush the needy in court, 23 for the LORD will take up their case    and will exact life for life.”

  2. Yes, it is an important and introspective set of verses that speaks to two significant themes: practicing fairness in a court of law regardless of economic status, and being cognizant of the divine powers that be that supersede the human scales of justice. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Rex.

  3. The exuberance and over-the-top imagery of Songs make me smile – love can inspire the most magnificent and charming metaphors when we are smitten with another! Songs is another book that stretches our understanding of God’s love, which, as you point out, is represented here in the passion of two lovers. The desire is frank and physical and expressed in the most concrete of images. This has to tell us something about our God’s unrestrained, prodigal love for us. It’s not an abstraction or an idea. It’s infinite but very real. And as a corollary, it can tell us something about human love: that passion and desire – so often suspect in “religious” circles – are capable of expressing the highest form of love, the agape that we understand as divine love. TFS!

    1. You have captured so skillfully the beauty and meaning of these passages. Does it not seem that God has deigned to liken his love for man by expressing it in such human terms? Were it not for that, might we have truly understood the depth and passion of so great a love? Another example of how God meets us where we are.

      Many thanks for your illuminating reflection. GBY.

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